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2012 in review

1 Jan

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Over on ‘The other side of the Pond’

21 Oct

New posts to view on – From the other side of the pond – to receive e-mail notification for new posts you need to click the link above to go to the new blog then add your details where it says follow this blog by email!

New Post!

11 Sep

For anyone who hasn’t found it yet there is a new post up on ‘From the other side of the pond’ the new home of our blog from home! Come over and visit please!

From the other side of the pond!

10 Aug

For everyone who would like to follow the new blog this is the address

You can get e mail updates by becoming a follower just as before. Hope to see you over there…. on the other side of the pond!


26 Jul

Well here we are… and today sees two weeks since we moved back into  our home in Shotley Bridge.

Our last day in Vancouver was a lovely warm and sunny one and to make the most of the time we had available before we flew we headed to Steveston. A small fishing town on the south side of Vancouver, it is a place we have enjoyed happy times previously. It was lovely to be back there, especially as there has been some considerable redevelopment, the town is growing and thriving where we had previously seen decline.


P1290120We enjoyed a stroll around the park, developed on reclaimed land where the salmon canneries used to stand, the grass has been sown with wild flowers which were in full bloom adding to the summery feel. At last the damp dull days seem to have disappeared.

We headed for the airport in good time as we had a LOT of luggage and needed to enlist the help of the porter service to get it from the hire car to check in.

Unfortunately when we got to check in it was to discover our 9.40 take off was delayed until 2.30am … ugh!

Frantic e-mails to the family at home who were due to collect us ensued. Thank goodness YVR has free internet access. Our main concern was to be on the connecting flight to Newcastle otherwise we would not be able to fly until Wednesday morning arriving at Newcastle airport at about the same time the removal men would be delivering our furniture to the house!

Thankfully despite delays we arrived at our son’s home at 11.30pm Tuesday night. We had been in transit 23hrs – flying for 9 hrs and 50 minutes….  a very long 24 hrs.

Wednesday morning the adrenalin kicked in as we drove to Shotley Bridge and our house. We found that 3 years of having tenants in had left it in need of some re decoration and with plenty of cleaning to be done. We set to while awaiting the delivery van.

With little or no cell phone signal and no land line Robert drove a mile or so from the house around 11.45 to ring the removal company who had not turned up. They had been delayed looking for our sofas, the same sofas they had delivered to our sons house last October! Once they realised their mistake they were soon with us but so was the rain. A torrential rain storm gave them time for a cup of tea before off loading the vehicle. Typically British workmen need lots of tea….

It wasn’t long before the North East segment of the family had visited and Ebony decided she must have a sleep over. This was a good idea as we hope she will spend the best part of 2 weeks with us soon when holiday club is on holiday (?) We made a pact that if we had got over our jet lag and were straight enough she could come the following Friday (which is now last Friday).

Having made an assault on the local DIY store we were armed with all the paint we needed to freshen up the first two rooms we wanted to tackle. Robert went to work on the lounge ceiling while I rubbed down paintwork in the lounge and small bedroom.

By Friday we were ready for a rest, picked up Ebony and had a fun evening together. We had a few tears at bedtime but having tired herself out running up and sliding down the stairs between our 3 floors she was soon asleep. Saturday was probably the sunniest day we have had since we returned so we set off with Ebony to visit the farmers market at Gibside.


Ebony’s’ school had visited earlier in the year to do a spot of seed planting. She was soon able to find her patch where we were delighted to find beetroot growing tall and strong!


After browsing the stalls and a snack in the cafe the climbing frame castle beckoned but Grumps was too tall!


Back at base on Sunday the painting and cleaning continued. I made a start on the garden which has matured a little since we left it. It was hard to see exactly where I had been but there were 3 bags of pruning’s and weeds ready to be transported to the tip when I had finished.

We began to think about retrieving the rest of our belongings from Nuneaton (Mum and Dad Hills house) trying to tie in a few days with Elizabeth, Alistair and Melissa in Plymouth too. It looked like flying visits everywhere until we had the bright idea of Plymouth coming to visit us instead of us visiting them… Yeah…. the reply was positive and we are all very excited for their trip up North very soon.

Today, Thursday 26th was to be a red letter day, our land line and internet were to be connected. We were both very impatient for this to happen as cell signal is not so good in our little corner. Getting mobile (cell) phones sorted gave us limited connectivity and we were missing our Wi-Fi especially with so many things needing to be set up. An engineer had to call at the house we were told.. 24hrs before he was due we got a text message to say he did not need to come, our equipment was with Royal Mail and we would be notified when we were live. Wednesday night I dreamt the post lady arrived with an empty van, I so hoped this would be incorrect.

At breakfast Thursday morning we received text messages to say we were ‘live’ Robert scuttled off and found our old hand sets, plugged in and we tested the number. Nothing! Oh no….. I texted them back and said ‘OH NO WE ARE NOT’ it seemed to work as within a few minutes the telephone was working. Postie duly arrived with the new equipment and as I write this we are ready to plug in our modem and go live on broadband.

So if you are reading this….. it worked!

PS – It didn’t – well not until I rebooted the modem that is!

Ooops! In all my excitement I forgot to give you the link to the new blog for our UK adventures. In future I will be found at take a look and save the page for next time….

So I got to thinking…

8 Jul

Well, this is it then, our last day before we fly home. The bags are all packed apart from the last bits and pieces – what an event that has been!

Now all that is left is reflection on happy times.


This was Robert on our first drive up to Whistler in November 2008 – 48000 miles later I am pleased to say he drove with more of a  relaxed disposition and a smile on his face!

He drove us safely over all those miles without major incident. He did give me a few worried moments in the early days I grew accustomed to my position as navigator but drove very little.

Our enjoyment has been shared with all those who have read my blog and I thank you for the lovely comments and support for my ramblings you have sent me. I set out to write enough to keep the family up to date – it turned out to be a little more than I expected.

Little did we know when we set out on this adventure how much we would learn, how much we would see and how many wonderful people we would meet along the way. We could never have imagined how the people of Canada and the US would overwhelm us with their generosity of spirit and hospitality. We certainly did not expect to fall in love with the country as we did either. We have made so many wonderful friends – thank you all for the great times we have shared, brief encounters or longer have all enhanced our life.

England here we come – look out everyone ‘The Hills’ are coming home!



Life after haRVey!

4 Jul

After we said our good byes to haRVey we spent our last night on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo. Saturday morning  dawned grey wet and horrid. We had hoped our 90 minute sailing to the main land would be a pleasant mini cruise where we could watch for marine life from deck.

As it was we sat indoors, managing to get a seat in the pointy bit, and watched the rain stream down the windows.

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Our rental accommodation was just a few minutes drive from the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, how it took us 45 minutes to find it is quite a mystery! When we did arrive however we were very pleased to review the small but very comfortable ‘sweet suite’  Robert had booked through Vacation Rental by Owners.

The property has a cute, tiny, private garden with a semi covered deck area nicely provided for with two comfy chairs…. if ever the rain stops we may sit out and enjoy this space!

We stayed close by here in West Vancouver when we came over to source and purchase haRVey back in the autumn of 2008 so have a fair feel for the area. We hope to visit a few of our favourite places and hopefully see a couple of old friends before the week is out.

So, with a decent broadband internet connection and time to kill while the rain keeps us indoors I have been ‘playing’ with the blog. You may notice a few different features with my photos…

I am looking at creating a new blog for our stories when we are back in the UK – not sure how often it will get written or even the content of it as yet but we will see.